Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lincolnshire County Council delusional about Statutory duties re Elective Home Education

A response to the letter in the previous post  has been received from Lincolnshire County Council.  They seem to have decided they have a statutory duty to ascertain that education of home educated children in their area is suitable.  The total lack of a definition of suitable education does not seem to worry them although far greater minds have decided to leave it undefined, they just make it up.  The fact that this will make them legally responsible for the failure of any child to be educated suitably has completely passed them by.

They (their legal dept no less) claim "Advice from our legal services states that;

If a parent is refusing to engage, the LA must be entitled to presume that the educational 

provision being provided at home is not suitable unless evidence can be provided to the

contrary. Elective home education associations commonly assert that a LA has no power to 

investigate whether the provision being made at home is suitable unless they are notified of 

any concerns. This is clearly unsustainable as a LA is unlikely to be able to establish such 

concerns unless they endeavour to investigate that provision."

The letter can be downloaded here.

Graham Stuart, Chair of the education select committee has made it quite clear that they are very wrong.  In a comment about another creative Local Authority he says:

Wakefield give links to the 2007 government guidance but wilfully misstate the law:

"It is the LA’s duty to ensure children of school age are receiving a suitable education as defined by law, that is that it must be ‘suitable’ and ‘efficient’ in line with Section 7 of the Education Act 1996."

Let me be clear: local authorities have no such duty. It is the parents' duty to ensure their children receive a suitable education. Local authorities have no duty to carry out routine monitoring and are obliged to act only if it appears to them that a child is not receiving a suitable education.

It's a bit like the police. They have no duty to ensure that televisions aren't stolen (they don't knock on your door asking for your help in confirming your house isn't full of stolen goods - and you'd be rightly offended if they did) but do have a duty to act if they have evidence that you do have stolen goods.

As an aside Barnsley's website is, if anything, even more misleading.

The official government guidance from 2007 says:

Local authorities have no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis.

However, under Section 437(1) of the Education Act 1996, local authorities shall intervene if it appears that parents are not providing a suitable education. This section states that:
“If it appears to a local education authority that a child of compulsory school age in their area is not receiving suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, they shall serve a notice in writing on the parent requiring him to satisfy them within the period specified in the notice that the child is receiving such education.”
Section 437(2) of the Act provides that the period shall not be less than 15 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served.

This attempt to ignore the law and claim duties, responsibilities and powers that they do not 

have but seem to misguidedly want is becoming more and more common despite this power 

grap being defeated at the last attempt to impose it with equally creative claims by 

Badman and Balls.

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